Summary: As we look at Jesus, see that he prayed before this battle. How do you pray as you prepare yourself, your soldiers, and your families for battle?

Prayer Before Battle

By Keith J. Andrews

All Scriptures marked ESV: The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001.Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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Most mornings out here, sometimes late at night, I meet with a convoy traveling outside the wire, to offer a prayer of safety and a blessing on their mission. It is a time of great importance for me—to be able to place my hand on these Soldiers going out and ask God to protect them. I pray for them anyway—but it is especially nice to be able to go out, look them in the eye, and prove that I truly am praying for them and that God will be with them.

We have recently begun our stay here in Iraq. During our deployment, it is critical that we stay attached to the vine, like we mentioned last week, and focused on our prayer life that is why over the last several weeks, we have been talking about prayer.

So as I wrap up this series and we begin to think about different aspects of our Christian walk, I want to take time to focus on prayer once more as it relates to our deployment here.

As we are beginning our time here, I want you to ask the question “How do you pray?”

How do you pray as you prepare yourself, your soldiers, and your families for the battles ahead?

As we face the struggles and the battles that lie ahead, we turn our attention to how Jesus faced his challenge.

He faced it in prayer—as should we. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion. He knew full well what would be happening.

For centuries, prophets had foretold of the sacrifice he would pay. Throughout his life, he knew that this moment would come. He was hours from being betrayed by a friend. Hours from being brought before Pilot and falsely accused. Hours before being beaten. Hours before being hung from a cross to pay the penalty for the sin of the world.

Jesus was about to do battle with the devil; literally.

As we look at Jesus, see that he prayed before this battle. How do you pray as you prepare yourself, your soldiers, and your families for battle?

Luke 22 gives us a glimpse of how Christ prayed during this time of struggle and preparation. We are looking at Luke 22:39-46.

Look at this passage as a whole, Luke 22:39-46

39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.7 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Lk 22:39-46, ESV)

We use his example not to compare the acts of what Christ was about to do with our situation, but to use his example to teach us how to face struggle and hardship.

Jesus prayed in a certain way and he sets the example for us to pray.

We first see in this passage that

1. Jesus prayed alone.

Luke 22: 41

41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, (Lk. 22:41, ESV)

This is something Jesus did frequently. He took time to be alone, to pray.

Luke 21 tells us that he went to the same place every night when we was in Jerusalem.

Jesus sets the example that we are to go by ourselves to pray.

In our busy world many times we complain that we can not get away, we can not be alone.

Recently, in the Tennessean newspaper, there was an article that showed how some men do get away. They convert their garages, bonus rooms, and game rooms of their houses to find time to get away.

Greg Van-Dette of Columbia, Tennessee has such a place. He says;

“(My wife) goes to bed pretty early. I can stay up a little later and get my personal time where I’m not a husband, father, or employee.”

He goes inside his room and plays his guitar.

He is intentional about being alone.

In Matthew 6, Jesus taught the disciples

6 … when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Mt 6:6, ESV)

We need to get away from the distractions of this world and find that time to pray.

How can you get alone? In my life, I wake up early. My wife stays in the bedroom, and I go to the living room where I have my writing table set up. It is there that I open the Bible for some Bible reading and prayer and my journaling. I have come to call this my “morning work”. Sometimes, when I have a busy day ahead of me, I go to work early. Here, I get in the office early, to accomplish this—before everyone else begins their day.

There are many different ways to get away and alone to pray. This may take some time and some thought. Jesus set the example for us in his personal prayer life and that was to get alone.

Jesus also set the example in his prayer life in that;

2. Jesus was Submissive.

Jesus prayed in verse 42;

42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Lk. 22:42, ESV)

I noted earlier that Jesus knew full well what was about to happen to him. He knew there would be hardship, loneliness, and pain. He knew that he would be betrayed by a friend, abandoned by his other friends, and cursed by the same crowd that was cheering him just days before.

Yet, Jesus chose to submit his life to the will of God.

Another word for submit is to yield. This word “yield” has no meaning on the American interstate.

One of my pet peeves is to be driving down the interstate, minding my own business and a car is speeding along the on ramp to beat me to the end. This is so he can cut me off. The law says that the driver (him) must yield to the moving traffic (me).

When you yield to someone, you allow their needs and wishes come before yours.

The same way is true in our prayer life. We must yield to God’s desires and follow him.

I’m often asked about knowing and following God’s will. To many this is a mystery that eludes them. To me, it is quite simple. We already know God’s will.

The Bible says:

… “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” . (Mt. 22:37-40, ESV)

When we put this love into practice, we are putting God’s will before our will, His desires before our desires and His principles before our principles.

When we are living to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and mind we will be submitting to him and fulfilling his will for our lives. We can’t help but do it.

Jesus sets this example, even in his last days, before the crucifixion that we are to be submissive to God’s will.

The third example from the Garden of Gethsemane is that;

3. Jesus was Intense

44 And being in an agony he (Jesus) prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Lk. 22:44, ESV)

As Jesus felt the time approaching, he was more and more fervent in his prayers. The word fervent means “exhibiting or marked by great intensity of feeling”. As Jesus prayed, he became more and more focused on his prayers. So much so that he was sweating blood—literally thick, clotted blood.

Many times scholars translate this to say “like drops of blood”, and there is some sense of that in the way the Greek is used. But, in the literal Greek there is also a sense that the sweat actually became blood.

Some say that this is not possible, because they don’t understand it. But, haven’t you heard of runners who are so intense in their running that they sweat blood? I think the problem that we have in visualizing sweat becoming blood, is because we have trouble visualizing prayer becoming so intense that we sweat at all.

Now, I’m not one to break away from good order, and I think this is why intense pray occurs in private. However, I remember certain times in history that intense prayer has preceded great victories for the kingdom of God and for the followers of God.

Have we become so routine in our praying that we are neglecting intensity?

Jesus teaches us, by example, that when we pray before our battles—when we pray to give up our lives to God there should be intensity to it.

How does this happen?

First of all, we must believe that there is someone on the other end. The prophet Isaiah said;

6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;

call upon him while he is near; (Is 55:6, ESV)

We must know in our hearts that he is near.

Many times we can not know this because of the sin that is in our lives.

Sin is anything you think, say, or do that makes God unhappy. Sin brings separation from God and makes it impossible to understand his closeness to us. The Bible says that all of us are sinners and are separated from God.

This separation is death and it is the punishment for our sin.

After his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus left to pay this payment because His death would bridge that gap of separation. Jesus was crucified and died on a cross to pay the penalty of our sin—in our place.

All we must do is accept this payment as our payment and receive Him as our salvation—this takes away the sin in our lives and makes us able to approach a Holy God, and the barriers to our prayers will be broken down. You can accept this payment in your seat this morning, just pray to him and accept His payment of death in your place.

Through this we can know that he is near.

Second, we must make prayer a priority in our lives. The Bible records that Jesus frequently stepped away to pray, it was a priority in his life. This is one of the few recorded times that he prayed with such vigor. He was able to pray with this heart, because he had made prayer a priority. Day in and day out, going to Lord. Then when trouble came, he turned, with all his might to intensive prayer. We need to be people that have prayer so entrenched in our lives that when it comes time to pray with all of our heart, we are familiar with the art of warfare on our knees.

Some of my heroes have become former Chaplains from history. I recently came to the realization that DL Moody, Oswald Chambers, and EM Bounds were all Military Chaplains of some sort. They were also experts in the task of prayer. Regardless of the war that we are fighting, we too need to make prayer a priority—in our business; we see the effects of death and suffering more than anyone else. You and I, whether you are a chaplain or not, need to make prayer on top of our agenda—praying to keep Soldiers safe, praying to bless the missions that are on going, and praying for peace—we talk a lot about getting out of here, but not a lot of talk about peace—we need to pray for peace.

So, how’s your prayer life today? Are you praying as Jesus prayed or are you just going through the motions?

Are you praying for the Battalion?

Are you praying for the Brigade?

Are you praying for our Nation?

As we look forward to the next year in Iraq, let us train ourselves to pray.

Let us take time to be alone.

Let us be submissive.

And let us pray with intensity.